Monday 22 August 2016

Guest Review: Not Quite Nice by Celia Imrie

Theresa is desperate for a change. Forced into early retirement, fed up with babysitting her bossy daughter's obnoxious children, she sells her Highgate house and moves to the picture-perfect town of Bellevue-sur-Mer, just outside Nice.

With its beautiful villas, its bustling cafes and shimmering cerulean sea, the village sparkles like a diamond on the French Mediterranean coast. Once the hideaway of artists and writers, it is now home to the odd rock icon and Hollywood movie star, and, as Theresa soon discovers, a close-knit set of expats. There's Carol, the infinitely glamorous American and her doting husband David; the erstwhile British TV star Sally; the ferocious Sian and her wayward Australian poet husband; the sharply witty Zoe with her strangely youthful face and penchant for white wine--and the suave Brian who catches Theresa's eye.

As Theresa settles to the gentle rhythm of seaside life she embraces her new-found friendships and freedom. However, life is never quite as simple as it seems and as skeletons start to fall out of several closets, Theresa begins to wonder if life on the French Riviera is quite as nice as it first appeared.

Review: I am always suspicious of books by people famous in fields other than writing, but I needn't have worried in this case - I found Not Quite Nice a really engaging novel. The cover of the book itself kept on attracting me as I passed the bookshelves in the shops. It is so bright and exotic in appearance. I thought that the story within matched up to it nicely. 

The story tells of the lives of a group of British ex-pats who have moved to a small French seaside village just outside Nice (hence the title). The latest arrival to the Riviera is Theresa, who has become fed up with her role as unpaid baby sitter and general dogsbody for her unpleasant daughter and equally nasty 3 grand daughters. While taking a short break in the area, she buys herself a flat there, and promptly leaves Britain and her family behind. She is soon absorbed by the rest of the group and there follows a series of entertaining incidents. I found myself laughing out loud at several points in the book, but there were also plenty of more serious moments. The story had a really good plot with a host of twists and surprises. 

As you can probably gather, I very much enjoyed this book and heartily recommend it as a great holiday read. I am looking forward to reading Celia's next tale following the events in the village. 

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